As you will know, during the recent debate in the House on whether to declare a climate change emergency, the motion declaring a climate change emergency was fully debated and accepted by all sides of the House. In view of the consensus, it was not necessary to put the motion to a vote. Full details of the debate are available here and here.
The Government will now have to come forward with renewed plans about how to ensure that the challenge of the climate change emergency is met.
Climate change is one of the most serious long-term threats that this country and the world currently face and the IPCC’s sobering and stark conclusions must be heeded. In order to play our part in ensuring temperature rises do not exceed two degrees from pre-industrial levels, I believe that we must look even harder at how to transform our energy generation, transport systems, industrial processes, homes, buildings and land use.
Last year, I called for stronger action on climate change and joined with the Climate Coalition and 143 other MPs in a cross party effort to back a UK net zero emissions target ahead of 2050
Following publication of the IPCC’s report, the Government sought advice from the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, to explore the implications of the report findings for the UK’s long-term targets. The UK has been the first of all the major industrial economies to undertake such action. Further details are available here. On 2nd May the independent Committee published its findings and recommendations for Government.
However, we must not be complacent. When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, the UK has already made progress and I think that it is worth setting out some of the initiatives which have led to this. The UK will be one of the first developed countries to take coal out of the energy mix completely, with last year’s announcement that all coal-fired power stations will close by 2025. The Government has also brought forward investment in Hinkley Point C – the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation.
The Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy identify and target the potential opportunity for the UK to benefit from clean growth and a transition to a low carbon economy, while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate.
£52 billion has been invested into renewable energy projects since 2010 and currently half of the UK’s electricity is generated from low carbon sources, with 32 per cent from renewables in 2017.
Renewable electricity capacity in the UK has trebled since 2010. The UK now has enough solar to power almost 2 million homes and Government support has seen the cost of solar fall by 35 per cent in the last three years alone. 99 per cent of all solar deployment in the UK has taken place since 2010. Indeed, I have campaigned on the topic of feed in tariffs (FIT) for solar energy and in particular, the Government’s original plan to stop export tariffs. I wrote to the Minister and joined with other MPs in efforts to ask the Government to look at this again. I am pleased that the Government decided to reverse its decision and to ensure that people who have solar panels installed on their homes are able to continue to benefit. The Government are now consulting on a Smart Export Guarantee to follow on from the FIT scheme, to ensure that small-scale low-carbon generators do not export their electricity to the grid for free.
The UK is an attractive market for investment in offshore wind and generates more electricity from offshore wind than any other country. The sector meets around 5 per cent of annual demand and this is expected to grow to 10 per cent by 2020.
The Government is maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind in support of a modern industrial strategy securing 3.2GW of new offshore wind capacity through its Contracts for Difference auction. Competition has reduced offshore wind costs which are now over 50 per cent lower than the first Contracts for Difference auction in 2015 demonstrating that the UK is an attractive place to invest in the development of offshore wind farms.
I have supported the measures set out above but I am not complacent. There is much more to be done and it needs doing with urgency. I will ensure that I play my part in formulating policies to deal with the challenges of climate change and hold the Government to account and ensure we move towards net zero emissions quickly and effectively.